in defense of church

I had a good friend of mine direct me to an anti-God book, [addendum] called THE GOD DELUSION. I read the Wikipedia entry and found a bit of text online. I found it to be as equally offensive with those who evangelize Christianity or other religions. Evangelizing is evangelizing. Doesn't matter what the fuck the topic is.

But I get it. I mean, c'mon, religion? Isn't it fun to take pot-shots at it? I mean, with Muslims blowing folks up, Christians deciding who can marry who, the Dali Lama kicked out of Tibet... Even Wicca and Paganism, I'd respectfully submit, seems a bit wishy-washy. Can't they agree on one truth? Don't even get me started on Jihad or Crusades. With all that, faith has left itself wide-fuckin-open, right?

But, the good bit about him mentioning THE GOD DELUSION is that it made me think. Thinking = Good. Why am I faithful? Why am I tackling it in SCAR? Why do I go to church? For some reason, I was able to set emotion well aside and just think.

To be honest, I like the trappings of religion as much or more than I like God. It's part of my attraction to antiques and history. I like crossing myself and bowing to the Cross in procession. It appeals to my sense of anachronism. I can't really "defend" faith or God as existing or not, any more than a Buddhist can assure us of actual Enlightenment, but you have to admit (if you've been in there), my church is a very nice place to spend an hour a week. People smile and wish you peace. The music is outstanding. The kids have a blast at Sunday School. I freely admit I dial it in more often than not, the best part being that nobody cares or knows if I do so long as I go through the motions.

And, really, Jesus...do I need to defend Him? He's an actual man, a historical figure who stood by his ideals to the bloody, excruciating death. Damn good ideals, by the way. Be peaceful. Help the poor. Feed the needy. Love each other. He hung on the cross for a looong time because of those ideals. And if you still don't believe in His dedication, they were validated by 2000 years and millions of people.

At its simplest, going to church reminds me of those ideals. When I cross myself head, mouth, and heart during the reading of the Gospels, it reminds me to live to those ideals. When I kneel, it's telling the world that those ideals are way bigger than me. When the Church baptized 7 babies today, it's a promise from our community to support those families and those kids.

Srsly. It's tough to feel the need to defend it when it makes so much damn sense.

Still, at the end of the day, I do believe in God, Higher Power, whatever. But whether or not it's true is irrelevant to any one else. It puzzles me why anyone would argue vocally against God (setting aside the violence perpetrated in His name, which is done as a lie anyway). What really matters is how I live, now, today. If following Christ's lead to be a decent person and focus on love is a delusion, then it's one I'm lucky to indulge in.

[addendum, Monday 9 November] I have not read the book in question. I wrote this post because I wanted to examine my thoughts provoked while reading some pages, the Wikipedia entry, and from sitting in church yesterday--one of my rare days I did not dial it in. I still stand by my earlier assertion: the book is likely as evangelist and self-aggrandizing as any obnoxious evangelical Christian. (And trust me, those are the subversive folks who I hate carrying the same label as me!)

To take this a little further, according to the Wiki entry, he chooses "Creationism" to further bolster his argument. For thinking Christians, that's like choosing the "39 Virgins" version of Islam to base an argument on. In other words, he chose the weakest link inside Christianity today. I would assert that MOST educated Christians do not believe in Intelligent Design or Creationism. Some idiots do. (I think we're all in agreement W Bush is the perfect example of the sort of idiot I'm referring to.) THIS Christian certainly does not, so it renders his argument against God baseless and moot.
A lifetime in church and I've never heard it preached or asserted. In fact, I was in a youth group as a kid that discussed Evolution and Science frequently and reverently.

In one aspect, Dawkins and I are in agreement. People use religion as a tool to advance their own goals. But that's what people do. In lieu of religion, they'd find something else (like shaky science, for instance, or guns) to advance their own goals. Yesterday, I was trying to focus on the good aspects of religion, something that seems to have been set well aside in this faith-bashing era, though by far the vast majority of faithful people are decent folks. Kinda like how most Muslims aren't blowing themselves up on street-corners.

And by the way, if you ask random homophobes why they're against gays marrying or being together, and I have, though not scientifically, they don't spout off with religion, but other stupider reasons, like it's "gross" or something. (They clearly haven't seen the films I have.) One could argue that religion has influenced culture to the degree that it's become a subversive underbelly. I'd assert that the US has a bigger problem: we're a very young, teen-aged culture, which has yet to understand how the rest of the world lives.

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